Hamilakis, Yannis, Anagnostopoulos, Aris and Ifantidis, Fotis
Postcards from the edge of time: archaeology, photography, archaeological ethnography
Public Archaeology, 8, (2-3), . (doi:10.1179/175355309x457295).
In this photo-essay we present and discuss an experiment with digital photography as part of our archaeological ethnography within the Kalaureia Research Programme, on the island of Poros, Greece. We contextualize this attempt by reviewing, briefly but critically, the collateral development of photography and modernist archaeology, and the links between photography and anthropology, especially with regard to the field of visual anthropology. Our contention is that at the core of the uses of photographs made by both disciplines is the assumption that photographs are faithful, disembodied representations of reality. We instead discuss photographs, including digital photographs, as material artefacts that work by evocation rather than representation, and as material memories of the things they have witnessed; as such they are multi-sensorially experienced. While in archaeology photographs are seen as either official records or informal snapshots, we offer instead a third kind of photographic production, which occupies the space between artwork and ethnographic commentary or intervention. It is our contention that it is within the emerging field of archaeological ethnography that such interventions acquire their full poignancy and potential, and are protected from the risk of colonial objectification.
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